My mother is an artist who loves to decorate her home. Our house has always been fabulous, and often times creatively so due to budget constraints. She made sheets into curtains, and curtains into cute outfits (not the same curtains mind you.) She was painting the insides of built in shelves different colors long before Pinterest made it a thing. She could recover a sofa in fabulous sheets found at Marshalls, and no one ever knew they were just sheets pinned to the sofa. She once bought a bunch of paper fans from Pier 1, nailed them to two by fours, and made these amazing window valances that were so cool, when she sold the house, the buyers asked if she’d leave them behind (she did.)
Of course, growing up like this also meant that sometimes you’d have to hunt down stuff in the kitchen because she rearranged the cabinets yet again (I still remember my friend getting up one Saturday morning, opening what had been the cereal cabinet only to find Tupperware, and then frantically searching the whole kitchen while I laughed.) Or having to help her move furniture YET AGAIN (there was only so many times my brother would move a piano in the same hour before protesting.)
The incident that is most embedded in my brain though is the Christmas Eve I woke up, and the kitchen and breakfast room were different.
I was six years old or so. Christmas prep was in full swing, cookies baked, rooms cleaned, preparations for the Christmas Eve family party happening, chaos reigning in the house, as you would when thirty to fifty of your closest relatives were about to descend while three kids and a dog ran amok.
I stumbled into the kitchen and glanced around.
And realized the kitchen was different.
The walls had been white. But now, they were wallpapered – a print of different herbs on a white background.
Everything was the same though – the spice rack was on the wall, containers on the counter, dishwasher in its corner. Only the walls were different.
And I couldn’t remember if the wallpaper was there the day before.
I was six years old, and I wasn’t sure if I hadn’t actually gone crazy.
I wandered about the house that morning feeling uncertain about the world as a whole. Mind you, I was an imaginative child who, after dreaming that I could fly down the basement stairs with my dog and cat, would sit at the top step of said staircase wondering if it was a dream or not and if I should try flying (I didn’t, because I was also a very cautious child) – so really, my grasp on reality wasn’t always the best, even at age six.
But I had seriously thought I had lost my mind. And it worried me that I couldn’t remember when the wallpaper went up.
Finally, after hours of wondering, I found the courage to ask my mom how long the wallpaper had been there.
“Oh, I put it up last night.”
Relief rushed through me. I wasn’t going crazy! At least, not over this.
As an adult, I’m still in awe that my mother managed to wallpaper two rooms overnight. Not just wallpaper them, but put everything right again. As a mother, I can completely appreciate the idea of doing such a task after kids went to bed. Lord knows I’ve done some of my best painting at night, when no little feet could accidentally walk through the paint tray. But I don’t think I’ve ever reached the stealthy ninja decorating skills like my mother had that Christmas Eve eve.